At Home with Julia
Release Date: Wednesdays, 9:30 PM
Prime Ministers are familiar targets for Australian comedians but I think At Home with Julia is the first to spend four weeks painting such a depressing picture of our nation’s leadership as a whole.
Amanda Bishop (STC Wharf Revue, Double Take) stars as Julia Gillard, historically one of Australia’s most unpopular Prime Ministers. Each week we’re given a comic insight into how her political and personal lives combine behind closed doors at The Lodge. Boyfriend Tim Mathieson, played by AFI-award winner Phil Lloyd (Review with Myles Barlow), bears the brunt of this collision as he tries to preserve their relationship from gate-crashing independents, international incidents and the constant interference of Paul Keating. Regularly referred to as ‘Mrs Prime Minister’ by the local kids, Tim cuts a sad figure while Julia comes off as generally clueless.
There’s not much to laugh at watching At Home with Julia. The series doesn’t just mock Gillard and Mathieson’s relationship, it lampoons every facet of Australian leadership. The mockery is at least balanced, though. It smirks at Labor, Liberal and independent MPs, as well as bureaucrats, federal police officers and trade union delegates. Julia’s dog is actually named ‘Bill Shorten’:
Tony Windsor: “Why do you call him that?”
Julia Gillard: “Because he’s always at mummy’s heels, aren’t you? Ratbag…”
Viewers might accept this as par for the course; Australians have always had a habit of cutting their politician off at the knees. But what emerges is a thoroughly familiar disrespect for anyone who might seeks to provide direction, and the more confidence they display, the more laughable they are. If a Christian with any conviction were to turn up in the series I’d expect they’d receive the same treatment. Tim turns out to simultaneously be the most pathetic and respectable character in the series because he’s not trying to get anyone to do anything, just get time with Julia.